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High school league looking for new fall, winter state tourney sites

  • Article by: DAVID La VAQUE
  • Star Tribune
  • October 4, 2012 - 7:40 PM

A lack of traditional fall and winter state tournament sites has the Minnesota State High School League considering its options.

Losing the Metrodome during Vikings stadium construction means football's Prep Bowl will be held outside for at least the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Discussions are underway with the University of Minnesota to hold football and soccer state tournament games at TCF Bank Stadium.

To sidestep potential scheduling issues, proposals raised at Thursday's high school league board of directors meeting included having football teams start their season one to two weeks earlier to prevent playing games outside deep into November. Another possibility is shrinking the postseason field from as many as eight teams per section to only four teams, league associate director Kevin Merkle said.

Meanwhile, overlapping events at Target Center and the University of Minnesota means format alterations starting with the March 2014 boys' and girls' basketball state tournaments through 2018. Merkle outlined one jarring option: playing quarterfinal games at metro-area college gymnasiums rather than at Williams Arena and Target Center.

"Trying to keep our current format is our first option," Merkle said. "The question is whether or not that's even going to be viable. And how far do you go manipulating everything to keep the current format? If we have games on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and they are all over at different sites, at what point do you lose the tournament feel?"

With football, Merkle said, "What we said all along with the new stadium coming in is, we might just have to live with some things for one year."

Merkle plans to have a basketball tournament proposal in place for a board vote in December. A decision on football is not expected until 2013.

Clay target shooting partnership

John Nelson, vice president of the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League, asked the league's board to support its state competition to "provide validity that we're a legitimate program."

Clay target shooting has grown from 54 participants in 2008 to about 1,500 last year, Nelson said.

Board members acknowledged the benefits of clay shooting but also raised concerns about safety as well as the league's image.

"You'll find our sport is safer than any other high school sport," Nelson said. "We have zero reported injuries or gun violations since our inception in 2008."

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